IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Excess Burden of Government Indecision

  • Francisco J. Gomes
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • Luis M. Viceira

Governments are known for procrastinating when it comes to resolving painful policy problems. Whatever the political motives for waiting to decide, procrastination distorts economic decisions relative to what would arise with early policy resolution. In so doing, it engenders excess burden. This paper posits, calibrates, and simulates a life cycle model with earnings, lifespan, investment return, and future policy uncertainty. It then measures the excess burden from delayed resolution of policy uncertainty. The first uncertain policy we consider concerns the level of future Social Security benefits. Specifically, we examine how an agent would respond to learning in advance whether she will experience a major Social Security benefit cut starting at age 65. We show that having to wait to learn materially affects consumption, saving, and portfolio decisions. It also reduces welfare. Indeed, we show that the excess burden of government indecision can, in this instance, range as high as 0.6 percent of the agent's economic resources. This is a significant distortion in of itself. It's also significant when compared to other distortions measured in the literature. The second uncertain policy we consider concerns marginal tax rates. We obtain similar results once we adjust for the impact of tax rates on income.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12859.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12859.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Francisco J. Gomes & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Luis M. Viceira, 2012. "The Excess Burden of Government Indecision," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 125 - 164.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12859
Note: AG AP HC PE POL
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascal J. Maenhout, 2001. "Investing Retirement Wealth: A Life-Cycle Model," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 439-482 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Keeler, Emmett B. & Carter, Grace & Newhouse, Joseph P., 1998. "A model of the impact of reimbursement schemes on health plan choice," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 297-320, June.
  3. Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2004. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 4641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Peter A. Diamond, 1997. "Macroeconomics Aspects of Social Security Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 1-88.
  5. Alexander Michaelides & Francisco J. Gomes, 2005. "Optimal life cycle asset allocation : understanding the empirical evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 193, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Angus Deaton, 1989. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 3196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  8. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Bohn, Henning, 1998. "Risk Sharing in a Stochastic Overlapping Generations Economy," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt9r2809f0, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  10. Mark Dusheiko & Hugh Gravelle & Rowena Jacobs & Peter C Smith, . "The Effect of Budgets on Doctor Behaviour: Evidence From A Natural Experiment," Discussion Papers 03/04, Department of Economics, University of York.
  11. Jullien, Bruno, 2000. "Participation Constraints in Adverse Selection Models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 1-47, July.
  12. Pietro Veronesi & Lubos Pastor, 2011. "Uncertainty about Government Policy and Stock Prices," 2011 Meeting Papers 86, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Jean Tirole & Jean-Jaques Laffont, 1985. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Working papers 368, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, 2002. "The Equity Premium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 637-659, 04.
  15. Lewis, Tracy R. & Sappington, David E. M., 1989. "Countervailing incentives in agency problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 294-313, December.
  16. Carroll, Christopher D, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55, February.
  17. Richard Blundell & Thomas M. Stoker, 1994. "Consumption and the timing of income risk," IFS Working Papers W94/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  18. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David Rapson, 2005. "Comparing Average and Marginal Tax Rates Under the FairTax and the Current System of Federal Taxation," NBER Working Papers 11831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Measuring Social Security’s Financial Problems," Working Papers wp093, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  20. Joao F. Cocco, 2005. "Consumption and Portfolio Choice over the Life Cycle," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 491-533.
  21. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  22. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence Kotlikoff, 1995. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Ellis, Randall P., 1998. "Creaming, skimping and dumping: provider competition on the intensive and extensive margins1," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 537-555, October.
  24. McGuire, Thomas G., 2000. "Physician agency," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 461-536 Elsevier.
  25. Rochaix, Lise, 1989. "Information asymmetry and search in the market for physicians' services," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 53-84, March.
  26. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah, 1997. "Market Frictions, Savings Behavior, And Portfolio Choice," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 76-101, January.
  27. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  28. Jerry Green & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2006. "On the General Relativity of Fiscal Language," NBER Working Papers 12344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Ching-to Albert Ma, 1994. "Health Care Payment Systems: Cost and Quality Incentives," Papers 0047, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  30. David Bardey & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2010. "Competition Among Health Plans: A Two-Sided Market Approach," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 435-451, 06.
  31. Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 2002. "Generational policy," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 27, pages 1873-1932 Elsevier.
  32. Auerbach, Alan J & Hassett, Kevin A, 2002. "Fiscal Policy and Uncertainty," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 229-49, Summer.
  33. João Cocco & Francisco Gomes & Pascal Maenhout, 1998. "Consumption and Portfolio Choice over the Life-Cycle," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces9805, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  34. James R. Baumgardner, 1991. "The Interaction between Forms of Insurance Contract and Types of Technical Change in Medical Care," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 36-53, Spring.
  35. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 869-904, 04.
  36. Alicia H. Munnell, 2003. "The Declining Role Of Social Security," Just the Facts jtf-6, Center for Retirement Research.
  37. EECKHOUDT, Louis & GOLLIER, Christian & TREICH, Nicolas, . "Optimal consumption and the timing of the resolution of uncertainty," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1792, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  38. Chalkley, Martin & Malcomson, James M., 1998. "Contracting for health services when patient demand does not reflect quality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-19, January.
  39. John B. Shoven & Sita N. Slavov, 2006. "Political Risk Versus Market Risk in Social Security," NBER Working Papers 12135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  40. Francisco J. Gomes & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Luis M. Viceira, 2008. "Optimal Life-Cycle Investing with Flexible Labor Supply: A Welfare Analysis of Life-Cycle Funds," NBER Working Papers 13966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Hamish Low, 2005. "Self-Insurance in a Life-Cycle Model of Labor Supply and Savings," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(4), pages 945-975, October.
  42. Dranove David & Spier Kathryn E., 2003. "A Theory of Utilization Review," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, August.
  43. Ching-to Albert Ma, 1997. "Cost and Quality Incentives in Health Care: Altruistic Providers," Papers 0084, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  44. Frank, Richard G. & Glazer, Jacob & McGuire, Thomas G., 2000. "Measuring adverse selection in managed health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 829-854, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12859. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.